I'm a high school student working on animatronics for a project and have recently bought an old ram skull (Seems to be a Dall or Bighorn). I wish to remove the caps from the skull itself, but seeing how old it looks, it's been virtually impossible. I have tried soaking it for four days and the stubborn caps feel like they're welded on! Someone told me to soak it in vinegar since it will make the bones rubbery like eraser (I experimented on a rib bone and it works) but I don't want to ruin the skull. Boiling didn't work and I can't seem to pop them off with a screwdriver. Please give me some advice!
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Likely the membranes have formed their own glue now and they aren't going to budge without damaging them. Spray them with a good moth and roach proofer and leave them as they are.
Drill some long holes from underneath the skull up into the horn cores. Be sure and not go to far and pop out the hole in the show side of the horn. Now, pour the formalin down into the holes with the skull upside down. Let the formalin soak up. Keep filling the holes back up several times. Let the skull dry for several days. Be sure and take necessary precautions when dealing with formalin. If you don't want to use the formalin, some of the substitutes on the market would probably work.
I had the same experience with old rams. Those horns are most likely never to turn loose. Clean them off as best as you can and put them in the freezer for a week or two to kill any insects that may have gotten into the horns. Then spray some good insect killer around the horncore like George said and call it good. None of my mounts I have done this way ever had a problem with insect infestation or coming loose. If you want to put a little color back into them spray them down lightly with WD 40.
Lee, I tend to agree with the others- better to just leave as is,BUT-maybe you just don't want the horn covers on the skull. 4 days soaking is nowhere near enough soaking to rehydrate the material deep down in those horns. I would guess more like 2 weeks soaking in warm water followed by a week or so sweating in a garbage bag and then take a rubber hamer to them. If what you want is a skull that you can slip the horns off of easily and replace as in a teaching model you will probably have to dry the horn covers around something just a bit larger than the horn cores as they tend to shrink tightly and resist this easy-on, easy-off action. If the skull is from a young animal it will not be much of a problem. Those horns will come off but it takes time. Enjoy, Aaron H.